Recycling – a significat source of metals
Recycling is a significant source of metals that can reduce the need for new metal mines. The amount of each metal that comes from recycling varies, however. This is for two main reasons:
- Some metals are used in ways that make it hard to recycle them (e.g. Lithium in batteries)
- Recycling systems and technologies are less efficient for some metals
Independent Capital Group recently visited the Elrec Recycling Plant in Liechtenstein to get an insight into this business. Elrec is one of the leading recycling companies in the region and has a modern and the most powerful cable granulation plant nationwide. The plant is particularly interesting as it ensures almost 100% recovery of valuable copper granulate and by-products such as aluminium, other metals and plastics from cables. Due to the role of copper in the energy transition, efficient recovery through recycling is extremely important to soothe future supply deficits.
To extract the valuable copper granulate, cables of all kinds are first shredded. The copper is then separated from the by-products and stored in large 1-tonne bags for resale.
In addition to copper and general scrap recycling, Elrec also specialises in aluminium – also a key metal in the energy transition. The company has a facility that uses magnets to separate the aluminium from by-products such as paper and plastic. The aluminium cans are pulled into the rear area of the unit by means of a magnet, while the by-products are stored in another compartment for further processing.